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Full-Time Thoughts–Liverpool vs. Chelsea

• The second half was a much better 45 minutes of soccer to watch. Both teams went after it, particularly early in the half, and the game was played at a faster tempo.

• Didier Drogba is so ridiculously disinterested in playing for Chelsea that it’s a joke. If I was Avram Grant, I would consider suspending him for the rest of the season and just telling him to stay away from the team. Drogba seems to be a cancer to Chelsea FC right now. He is less than half the player he was under Mourinho.

• Kalou in for Joe Cole seemed to have been a bit of a pointless change. I understand that Cole had had a quiet game up until that point, but he is Chelsea’s most creative attacking player and can provide things that no one else on that team can. One moment of brilliance and Cole could’ve equalized for the Blues, and you can’t say the same about Kalou.

• Frank Lampard didn’t seem to fully be into this game. He was there in body, obviously, but he seemed to be a couple steps off the pace and I don’t think his mind was completely focused on playing Liverpool. After being with his sick mother for a while though, you can’t have expected a wonder game from him either.

• Rafa Benitez clearly outmanaged his counterpart, Avram Grant, tonight. Grant was hesitant to pull the trigger on any attacking moves, and Benitez stood pat and didn’t bring on an extra defender, which in turn likely would’ve brought an immediate countermove from Grant and invited more pressure onto the Reds’ back line. Grant brought Anelka on in the 85th minute, way too late. A guy like Anelka typically needs five minutes or more just to get acquainted with the flow of the game, and Grant was asking too much of him to contribute something in that short a period of time. Grant also took off his best player on the night, Michael Ballack, for some unknown reason.

• Liverpool was harshly done by the officials. Chelsea got the benefit of almost every close call; Drogba went down at every chance he got and usually won a free kick, Chelsea clearly was offside on two or three occasions and it wasn’t spotted, and Liverpool had a great shout for a penalty after Michael Ballack appeared to play the ball with his arm in the box midway through the second half.

• Chelsea really lacked that spark of creativity necessary to steal a true goal at Anfield. Ballack was their best player, as I said, but didn’t seriously ever test Reina. I’m still unsure why he was replaced.

• Just how important were Fernando Torres’ two great chances that weren’t finished? The second was only a minute before Riise’s unfortunate own-goal, and going 2-0 up would’ve finished the game for good.

• In the end, 1-1 obviously is a flattering scoreline to Chelsea. The Blues were outplayed virtually all game and only a lucky own-goal at the death rescued them. Chelsea now has the advantage heading back to the Bridge next week, but Liverpool has to be encouraged by their own performance today. Take nothing away from Chelsea though; they had fate on their side tonight, and that can’t be underestimated.

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24 Comments

24 Comments

  1. Jose

    April 22, 2008 at 11:23 pm

    liverpool wat a waste yesterday the match let me laugh ..chelsea get ready for the title.

  2. TheScout

    April 22, 2008 at 9:47 pm

    Alex,

    I agree with you that Messi’s goal record for is quite admirable for someone that plays essentially as a winger. He has a boatload of talent and I hope that he can stay healthy as I do enjoy watching him play.

    As for the future and time travel, I’ve watched the movies but that’s about it. Perhaps my saying that Barcelona “will not” win the CL is a bit strong-headed but based on what I’ve seen of them this year, my 1.21 gigawatt brain is telling me they will not advance.

    Anyone not getting the gigawatt reference…check here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjCRUvX2D0E

  3. Hedi

    April 22, 2008 at 9:28 pm

    1-1 draw was not good for Liverpool. But I can say Liverpool was lucky enough to grab a minimum result. If Drogba and Lampard played better than last night, I believe Anfield would suffer very bad.

    By the way, I agree with you, Michael. Drogba was disgusting.

  4. ROOONEY

    April 22, 2008 at 9:17 pm

    LMAO! You do have your own blog….it all makes sense now

  5. ROOONEY

    April 22, 2008 at 9:13 pm

    http://www.jasonrh.com/kits/ogriise.jpg

    http://i45.photobucket.com/albums/f52/pgtipzy2k/scouseleague.gif

    karma has come back to bite liverpool in the ass, they’ve gotten all the decisions/luck in the champs league the past few years

    ps. Alex, why don’t you just make your own blog?

  6. Ph0BoLuS

    April 22, 2008 at 8:21 pm

    Chelsea weren’t outplayed the whole match, there was like a minute or two where Chelsea opened Liverpool up in the 2nd half. With Malouda getting the corner, and the Kalou to Drogba to Lampard attempt that ended up as a goal kick.

  7. Alex Hleb

    April 22, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    the,
    i agree that messi is fragile, but i think 30 goals in 72 games for barcelona as a winger, while still being 20 is enough to be considered reliable.

    barcelona will not win? if you know this already, can you please share your secret method for time travel with the world?
    did you finally find the elusive flux capacitor for your ’83 DeLorean?

    besides, some of those players are only injured for the first leg.

    kuyt was not offside because he wasnt called offside. if he was called offside then he would be offside. that may not make sense but then again it may.

  8. TheScout

    April 22, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    Alex,

    Just a few points in regards to your comments.

    Messi is very talented but appears to be too fragile to be relied upon. How many times has he been out injured in the last couple of seasons?

    Barcelona will not win the Champions League this season. Puyol is out for this first leg, Messi is just coming back from injury, Ronaldinho cannot be counted on right now, Henry is injured and Barca have struggled all year. They were fortunate to get past Schalke in the last round. They came up with just enough to win, granted that, but that level of performance will not get the job done against Manchester United.

    Re: Kuyt’s goal…he was not offside and Makelele jumped into him, Kuyt just brushed him off and went on to score…good composure for once.

  9. Alex Hleb

    April 22, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    to ossie’s dream, i think this game really shows the result of what happens when you dont use all your resources to attack and score goals. liverpool is a talented team. i think they should use that talent to score more. simple as that. i think with one team sitting back, both teams suffer and are both forced to play defensively. it means they could only score when the other team makes a mistake. its not attractive at all.

    (i think kuyt was offside. besides that, he grabbed the defender’s leg who ever that might have been.)

  10. Alex Hleb

    April 22, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    one thing has to be made clear when comparing torres and messi though-torres is more suited for the premier league. this is obvious by the size difference. for messi to be able to thrive there would have to be a change in how most of the teams play. there would have to be an increase emphasis on attacking. i feel more and more teams will be less on defending as new managers come in, especially when avram grant and rafa benitez will be disposed of come summer time. with chelsea being linked to gus hiddink and frank rijkard, it is obvious that they are looking for a more attacking approach. liverpool as well, since they signed torres and especially ryan babel who grew accustomed to the famous attacking football patented by ajax. if liverpool sign david villa, even more so. spuds, new castle, aston villa, portsmouth, and man city are also placing a greater emphasis on attacking. i believe that eventually we will see scorelines in the 3 or 4 goals range as the norm. so i think eventually messi would be able to play in the premier league. but if he can take the example of theo walcott who is only a bit taller than him, yet slimmer, maybe he can flourish in the premier league now. its all a matter of opinion. messi could possibly end up playing in the premier league, but of course he would have grow tired of playing and living in barcelona-something that is almost impossible to comprehend.

  11. slipereypete

    April 22, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    More hyperbolic slating of Chelsea yet they still get the results, ’tis a bitter pill to swallow huh?

  12. ossie's dream

    April 22, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    Alex Hleb – what did you actually think of the Liverpool Chelsea game? All your other opinions are deeply fascinating, so I’m sure I am not alone in wondering what insight you can share about the topic at hand.

  13. Michael

    April 22, 2008 at 4:50 pm

    Right, yeah, and I wrote what I wrote two minutes before you wrote what you wrote, so obviously we’re on the same page here. If you’re talking about raw talent, I would agree, Messi has more of it, but like we’ve said, it’s difficult to compare because they’re different players.

    Scary that we’re thinking alike, though, Alex.

  14. Alex Hleb

    April 22, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    considering now that messi is only 20, while torres is 24, it might also be better to wait until messi is 24 to compare them. messi will probably have around 200 or more goals for barca by then.

  15. Alex Hleb

    April 22, 2008 at 4:47 pm

    thats what i said michael. maybe it can not be a debate because they are different players. i do think messi is more talented than torres though. maybe that is why torres ended up playing for atheltico madrid and messi made his debut for barca at 16.

  16. Alex Hleb

    April 22, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    maybe it has nothing to do with your post, and maybe it isnt even a debate because you can argue that they may play a different style of football, or that messi is obviously better, i do think saying that barcelona will win the champions league is a debate that’s related to this topic.
    barcelona has more quality than manure. messi, eto, henry are a better pairing than rooney and tevez. also replace one of them with bojan or ronaldinho and you still have a better option than rooney and tevez. i would be afraid of barcelona defensively as well. puyol is class not found in machester. milito can do a solid job too. zambrotta and abidal at wings of that defence can be affective too. i would say the atmosphere at the nou camp will also be hard to swallow for manure.

  17. Michael

    April 22, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    Alex, they’re two different players. Torres is a classic striker, Messi is more of an outside, wing player than a center forward like Torres.

    Messi has been more productive stats-wise, but also plays in a system designed to attack, attack, and attack some more. Torres has had a very impressive season playing for a team that isn’t known for scoring a lot of goals, and at Atletico Madrid previously, he didn’t have the same firepower around him like Messi does at Barca.

  18. Eoin

    April 22, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    Liverpool got what they deserved, They’v won on luck the last 3-4 year and finally it caught up with them.

  19. Alex Hleb

    April 22, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    can we debate over who is better between torres and messi.

    can i start by saying messi?
    30 goals in 72 games for barcelona at the age of 20

    torres’ stat line- 82 goals in 214 games.

    messi is more productive.

    also you might want to youtube messi v getafe to see his run from his own half last year.

  20. Alex Hleb

    April 22, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    and barcelona to win the champions league.

  21. Michael

    April 22, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    Anonymous, before this tie, I predicted that Liverpool would go through 2-1 on aggregate and I stand by that. Even if it’s not that exact score, I still do believe that Liverpool will go through.

  22. Anonymous

    April 22, 2008 at 4:16 pm

    do you really think that liverpool wont finish them off at stamford bridge,it shows who were the better side by the way drohgba kept fiening injury and the fact that we scored the goal that they couldnt,they fear us greatly and the game is far from over.

  23. Michael

    April 22, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    Haha, it was a lovely finish by Riise, he couldn’t do it again even if he tried. I feel sorry for the guy, he’s been such a loyal servant to Liverpool and has contributed so many positive things to the club over the years, and now this.

  24. TheScout

    April 22, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    And how about that gorgeous header by Riise? Just seconds from having the advantage in the tie now the advantage has been handed to Chelsea.

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